Desert Race: Superteam race summary

Superteam back in action. Mixed fortunes for Superteam on Toyota 1000 Desert Race. There were mixed fortunes for the O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel Superteam on the Toyota 1 000 Desert Race, round three of the Bankfin Off-Road Championship, in ...

Superteam back in action. Mixed fortunes for Superteam on Toyota 1000 Desert Race.

There were mixed fortunes for the O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel Superteam on the Toyota 1 000 Desert Race, round three of the Bankfin Off-Road Championship, in Botswana from June 21 to 23.

Only one of the three Superteam entrants made it to the finish on an event that saw only 36 of the original 86 starters make it to the end. Richard Carolin and Geoff Minnitt, in the O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel Superteam Raceco, battled gamely to come in 24th overall and fourth in Class S.

On the final day Carolin and Minnitt looked set for a place in the top 10 in the Special Vehicle category and a top three finish in Class S. Disaster struck when a steering arm snapped on the final loop on the way to the finish at the Gaborone Dam, and the Raceco was catapulted into the Botswana scenery.

"We managed to do some running repairs and limped home, but it was a disappointing finish," said Carolin. "Neither of us got out of the car on the first day when we ended up second in class.

"At the start of the final racing section we were confident we could hold station, but on this race you always have to budget for the unexpected. When all is said and done we made it to the finish, and we know we can give the other Class S crews a run for their money over the rest of the season."

Both John Weir-Smith/Tony George, in the O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel Superteam BMW Jimco in Class A, and Paolo Piazza-Musso/Scott Abraham, in the O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel Superteam Jeep in Class F in the Production Vehicle category were racing section one casualties. The retirement of Weir-Smith and George had further repercussions for the pair, and they drop to third place in the Class A championship behind Greg Harvey/Boy Stone and Terence Marsh and Trevor Ahier.

"We qualified 39th after getting lost but were carving our way through the field when the engine started to misfire," said George. "We tried everything we could to find and fix the problem, but no matter what we did the misfire came back.

"In the end we decided not to risk blowing up a very expensive motor, and retirement was the better part of valour."

Piazza-Musso and Abraham, running in Class F for two wheel drive vehicles in the Production Vehicle category, gave more fancied crews a wake up call when they qualified fifth fastest overall and third in the Production Vehicle category in the prologue. The pair then ran as high as second overall in the Production Vehicle category on racing section one before a puncture dropped them down a place or two.

At the first designated service point Piazza-Musso and Abraham were 8th overall and fourth in the Production Vehicle category. They were also leading Class F by the proverbial mile when they ran into problems on the final loop of the day.

"The fuel tank ruptured and neither Scott nor I fancied the idea of continuing to race in a vehicle that was a potential fire bomb," said Piazza-Musso. "We also decided that discretion was the better part of valour.

"It was a pity because we were really going well, and looked to be in for a great result. All the work that has gone into the Jeep in recent months is paying off, and I think we can continue to give the big boys in Class T a fright."

The O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel Superteam will be back in action on the O'Hagan's / Kopanong Hotel 500 in Mmabatho on July 26 and 27 -- and would love to make a strong showing on their own event. The Mmabatho race also marks the halfway point in the Bankfin Off-Road Championship, and will be an important outing for championship hopefuls throughout the various classes.

-msa-

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Series Other rally
Drivers Tony George